The School is pleased to announce a seminar this Friday from Dr. Geoffrey Miller, University of New Mexico.
TITLE: Sex, mutations, and human intelligence: New research on mental fitness indicators
Intelligence and creativity happen to give modern humans many scientific, technical, and economic benefits, yet they have proven surprisingly difficult to explain through natural selection for prehistoric survival advantages. In recent years, some evidence has begun to support an alternative view: human intelligence and creativity evolved mainly to promote our ancestors‚ reproductive success in their small-scale hunter-gatherer societies. Specifically, intelligence and creativity may have evolved in both sexes, through a form of sexual selection called mutual mate choice‚, as mental fitness indicators‚ (reliable signals of good genes, good brains, and good mental health). This talk introduces these ideas, and reviews some recent empirical research, including evidence that
(1) general intelligence (a.k.a. the g factor, IQ, general cognitive ability) is a reliable indicator of overall genetic quality (low mutation load), as manifest through its positive correlations with body symmetry, general health, longevity, and semen quality,
(2) creativity (especially verbal humor during courtship) is a reliable indicator of general intelligence,
(3) male creativity increases when men think about attractive potential mates, and
(4) women who are regularly cycling become more attracted to male creativity when they are most fertile, just before ovulation.
Thus, modern human intelligence and creativity originated not just through evolutionary selection pressures to understand the world more accurately or to invent better technology, but also to advertise high neuro-genetic quality to romantic partners. This mate choice model might also explain the unique amplification of human personality traits such as agreeableness, conscientiousnesss, and openness to experience, which are perceived as sexually attractive moral virtues.